WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) wrote letters to social media companies Meta and TikTok and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) about a dangerous social media trend, known as “subway surfing,” which recently claimed the life of a young person in his district. “Subway surfers,” who are often teenagers influenced by coaxing and sinister validation from an online community, film themselves climbing and then riding outside or on top of a moving subway car.
“This online trend has deadly consequences,” wrote Rep. Raskin to Meta and TikTok. “This summer, my constituent, Jay Thirunarayanapuram, lost his life five days after his fifteenth birthday while subway surfing. His loving parents and friends are devastated, and our world is poorer for our loss of a bright young artist, animal lover and extraordinary young man.”
Although Meta and TikTok policies restrict content containing “anything unlawful” or “promoting dangerous activities and challenges…that may lead to significant physical harm,” respectively, and should thus both prohibit subway surfing videos, some content persists. Diligent content monitoring and strong, ongoing enforcement of platform guidelines can prevent the proliferation of subway surfing videos and deter impressionable young people from this dangerous activity. Rep. Raskin also wrote to WMATA to convey his alarm about this social media trend and to request that WMATA share any further steps the authority is considering to reduce and deter this practice.
Though the subway surfing trend appears to be less pronounced in the National Capital region, recent media reports have documented an alarming rise in these dangerous incidents on the East Coast, with New York City recording 928 incidents in 2023 and four deaths in the first six months of this year.